Russia’s oil is still changing hands off the Spanish coast Ship’s crew

By Sherry Su (Bloomberg) —

A large quantity of Russian oil continues to be transferred between tankers just miles off the coast of Spain – just weeks after authorities there wrote to local companies to remind them the activity is banned.

Four Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, are anchored off Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, according to Vortexa and ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Together they can hold about 8 million barrels of oil.

One of Veronica, has already received cargo transfers from two smaller tankers and is now taking oil from a third. A second that Anshun II, just received a cargo from a smaller ship. The other two have yet to start.

In early February, the Spanish authorities sent one letter to local shipping companies reminding them of a ban on providing fenders for ship-to-ship transfers when dealing with or suspected Russian oil, even in international waters.

After that there was a pause of about two weeks, but from the end of February sea transports of Russia’s flagship Ural class resumed there.

Firms in the European Union are prohibited from offering a range of services unless the onboard cargo is purchased at or below a Group of Seven price cap of $60 per barrel. It is unclear if this is the case with the oil switched in Ceuta.

Ship-to-ship transfers have become an important logistical detail to get Russian oil to market. According to Vortexa, about a third of Ural exports were converted to sea in the past month.

Ceuta and Kalamataa few miles off Greece’s southern coast, have been the flashpoints of Russia’s oil shift since December, when the EU banned nearly all sea imports and joined the Group of Seven to impose a price cap.

Almost 30 million barrels of Russian Urals have been moved between tankers so far this year, according to Bloomberg data. Ceuta accounts for about 43% of this activity, with Kalamata in Greece accounting for almost all the rest. The cargoes were then shipped to Asia.

–With the support of Thomas Gualtieri.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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